The Academic Digital Divide – A conversation

This is for my friend Elke who reminded me with a tweet that we have to be mindful that many academics are working in difficult situations – I’m not saying that’s actually me in the conversation below but it could be…

Recording content at home for online delivery? That’s easy – let me talk you through the process mate.

So what I tend to do is that I use my DSLR on a tripod to record the visual with a blue yeti to separately capture the audio.

What’s that you only have a low-res webcam? Oh well make the best of that I guess but it’s going to be pretty grainy and the sound quality might be a bit hit and miss.

Anyway once I’ve captured the material in the corner of my home office that is now a recording space with a dedicated laptop, I switch over to the desktop on because it’s got plenty of RAM (32gb) and the graphics card means that it renders pretty quickly.

You’ve only got a old laptop and a kitchen table? Kids get getting in shot you say? Tricky but I don’t have any, so no idea about that – can they not watch Disney plus or something?

So I take the material and I use Abode Audition to clean up the audio and then in my workflow, I use Adobe Premier to construct and edit – I’ve got my own title sequence and idents.

You don’t have any technical skill because you were never required to have any? Oh.

Anyway – once it’s all rendered – 1080p is the format to output it with because you want the highest resolution possible and then use your online streaming platform to adaptively change the resolution according to what the viewer is seeing? The files sizes are pretty big – some get as big as 4gb, I’m so glad I have unlimited Ultrafast broadband of about 500mbps down and 200mpbs up.

You are still on ADSL? It’s limited to 5mbps? That’s painful.

Anyway – need to crack-on as I’m working on my new title sequence and want to make sure the jingle is right.

Surface a go go for teaching and learning – Surface Go thoughts

So a little while ago, I ordered some Surface Pro devices for the Business School.  Although they could be taken to staff to meeting, the intention they would mainly be used for teaching – especially around Accountancy and Economics where the pen support would be useful.  In particularly for teaching, the advantage of the Surface is that you can project what you are doing to the front of the room while moving around from group to group (see this rather rough youtube I recorded):

Shift forward a year and I’ve just taken possession of a number of Surface Go devices (you can read the full spec here – we have the 128gb, 8gb version).

There are a couple of noticeable difference from the Pro – the size is smaller (10″ screen) and it uses a slow Intel Gold Mobile processor. I must confess at the time of purchase, I was concerned that the processor was going to be an issue and wondered about the smaller screen size.

However after a week or so of usage, I’m a convert and prefer it to the Surface Pro as a secondary machine. This is for a couple of reasons:

  • The screen size means that it has a portability as a corridor warrior (moving from classroom to classroom, meeting to meeting) that is superior to the pro.
  • The processor has caused me no concerns at all in practice – it does everything I need to do and does it welll;
  • Keyboard is small and nice (it’s no thinkpad keyboard but what is?);
  • Battery life is solid and although it does have it’s own propriety charger, it also uses USB-C so when travelling, I just taken the same (powerful third party) charger for my Laptop and phone;
  • When using in class, the weight is much much better for spending an hour moving around and interacting with people.

A surface go tablet charging
My Surface Go – notice how it is charging from USB-C which adds convenience when travelling.

Obviously if you want to do photo-shop or something with heavy processing this is not the machine for you but as a *department device* for people to book in and out for specific purposes, I think it’s a winner.